* Says 50 million tonnes of oil a year to China “achievable”
* China’s new leader Xi Jinping to visit Moscow
MOSCOW, March 22 (Reuters) - Rosneft’s ambitious goal of increasing oil supplies to China to 50 million tonnes a year (1 million barrels per day) is achievable, the company’s head Igor Sechin said in a television interview on Friday.
Sechin, the close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was speaking before China’s new leader Xi Jinping’s first foreign trip as he starts his Moscow visit later on Friday.
Industry sources have told Reuters that Rosneft plans to sharply increase exports to China by some 34 million tonnes to around 50 million tonnes by 2018, which would make Beijing Moscow’s largest oil consumer.
“China is Rosneft’s strategic market. At present, our supplies stand at 15 million tonnes, and that’s why the level of 50 million tonnes is not out of reach. We have the resource base and transportation infrastructure. East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline is working,” Sechin told Rossiya-24 TV channel.
Rosneft on Thursday completed the $55 billion deal to acquire TNK-BP to become the world’s largest crude producer. The state-owned company borrowed up to $40 billion for the purchase, mostly from Western banks.
It has managed to cover its most immediate needs by lining up a syndicated loan as well as $10 billion in financing from traders Vitol and Glencore.
Industry sources told Reuters that Rosneft has been in talks with China on loans of up to $30 billion, which it may use to refinance more expensive borrowings.